Historic Preservation

Photo of exterior building renovation along Main Street in downtown ColumbiaThe City of Columbia Planning Department is responsible for historic preservation activities within the City.  The Historic Preservation Division of the Department is responsible for the administration of the City's historic preservation ordinance, which provides certain kinds of legal protection for buildings, districts, and sites that have been declared historic by City Council.  The City of Columbia has over 180 individual landmarks.

The Division is also response for developing awareness of Columbia's rich historical beginnings, which started in 1786 when Columbia became the first planned capital in the new nation.  Additionally, the Division raises awareness of how historic materials can be preserved through workshops and educational events.

The Historic Preservation Division is in charge of approving Certificates of Design Approval (CDAs) for alterations to historic buildings and sites.  The design review process for Columbia's historic districts and design districts is administered by the Design/Development Review Commission (D/DRC) and the design review staff.  All projects come directly to staff for consultation first.  Staff may then direct the applicant as to whether the project can be approved at the staff level, or must be channeled through the Commission according to City Ordinance.

If you have questions, please contact the staff representative for your district.  


Preservation Month

A two-toned red graphic in the shape of an upside-down teardrop which reads, in white, "THIS PLACE MATTERS" - the logo belonging to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.#thisplacemattersMay is Preservation Month in the City of Columbia! National Historic Preservation Month was started in the 1970s by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to promote historic places and has been going strong ever since! Each year, throughout the month of May, events and activities are scheduled across the country to celebrate the history and architecture of communities big and small.

While May is still Preservation Month in the City of Columbia, we have postponed all in-person Preservation Month events this year for public safety. Instead, we will be celebrating through social media and online. Please check back on the website and follow @ColaCompass on Facebook or Twitter so that you can join us as we celebrate Preservation Month (and Bike Month) virtually.

As part of Preservation Month, the City will also be kicking off an architectural survey which will focus on Columbia’s historic downtown area and will document the buildings not previously recorded in past architectural surveys. This survey is part of the City of Columbia’s ongoing effort to keep an up to date city-wide survey. Learn more, including how you can be involved, here.

Want more information on preservation in the City of Columbia? Join our mailing list by emailing [email protected].

DIY Activities to Help You Celebrate at Home:


Preservation Newsletter

If you would like to sign up to receive the preservation newsletter, please email [email protected].  Past newsletters are available below.